Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A Ruckus Worth Remembering

This article in last Sunday’s Banner-Herald commemorates the five-year anniversary of what I regard as the single biggest local government miscue in the history of the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, namely the rental registration fiasco. As I read Blake’s piece, two things immediately came to mind, both of which struck me as patently self-evident.

The first should be readily apparent to everyone. It is that those of us who opposed the original rental registration plan, not to mention its rental regulation successor, by arguing that the obvious solution to the supposed epidemic of ordinance violations was to increase enforcement of the ordinances in question rather than institute an invasive Big Brother regulatory scheme, have been proven entirely correct. Read the article for yourselves.

The second may require a bit more thought, especially for many of the folks here in Athens-Clarke County. In the online comments to my letters to the editor and blog postings, I have been castigated repeatedly about the supposed civil liberties violations committed by the Bush Administration (I am the only right-leaning blogger in town). Of course, no one has offered a verifiable example of how an American citizen’s rights have been violated. Instead, the supposed violations reside strictly in the realm of the hypothetical and the theoretical.

Be that as it may, consider this. It was not George W. Bush who tried to force local landlords to collect personal information on their tenants and make that information available to government. It was not Dick Cheney who refused to reappoint a sitting judge because she did not give the political class the conviction rate deemed appropriate. It was not Karl Rove who recorded the names and addresses of those who spoke against proposed government policy and threatened them with prosecution.

So, who committed all of these transgressions? Anyone even remotely connected with the evil, fascist, jackbooted GOP? Hardly. In each of the instances cited, all of which derived from the rental registration debacle, it was none other than the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County, that bastion of hard left progressivism populated exclusively by Democrats. The problem is that many expressed feigned outrage over the presumed violations of civil rights by the national government while conspicuously ignoring actual violations much closer to home.

At this point I will take the opportunity to note that I am a strong advocate of civil liberties and, in fact, further note that such advocacy has been the source of many of my tirades against the Unified Government. Even so, I recognize that civil liberties are not absolute and should not extend to foreign combatants captured on foreign battlefields in a time of war to the same extent that thy do to American citizens – you know, that bit about the Constitution not being a suicide pact.

Oh, and just to throw another one out there unrelated to rental registration, don’t forget about the Police Department and District Attorney listening in on inmate’s constitutionally protected phone conversations with their attorneys.

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